Richard Codey’s planned retirement brings two things to mind – one a blunt assessment about money in politics and the other just a blunt assessment about politics.
Let’s start with the first observation.
It dates back to Codey’s tenure as governor after Jim McGreevey announced his resignation 19 years ago this month.
Recall that Codey was a very popular governor. Part of it had to do with the fact he was replacing a man who resigned amid scandal.
But a lot of it also had to do with the fact Codey – as he still does – came across as a sincere and decent man, a guy who enjoyed making fun of himself.
That, naturally, raised speculation that he would run for the top job himself in the fall of 2005.
Political junkies know what happened.
Codey did not run. Jon Corzine left the U.S. Senate and ran successfully for governor.
Corzine’s main attribute was money.
And that brings us to a discussion that happened after Codey had made the decision not to run for his own term as governor.
The scene was a Democratic fundraiser of some type in Randolph. Codey was there.
Many of those at the event lamented the fact Codey was not running for governor.
His explanation was simple and to the point.
He said if he did run, he would have had to go up against Corzine and his millions of dollars in a primary.
And to do that, Codey said he would have had to spend hours each day calling people for money. And what fun would that be?
The point about self-funded politicians made, the crowd understood.
But it’s still worth wondering what would have happened if Codey was able to run for governor in 2005.
Now, let’s move to the present – or the present minus five months ago.
It was around that time that Codey filed to seek reelection to his LD-27 Senate seat.
Because of redistricting, this became a contested primary between two incumbents – Codey and fellow Sen. Nia Gill.
But, as we now know, he will not be seeking reelection this fall.
His replacement will be selected by the Essex County Democratic Committee.
Reasonable people have to realize that if Codey announced plans to retire before the primary, his place on the ballot would have been filled by party voters.
Yes, this is how the system works. And both parties operate the same way.
But just like overwhelming amounts of money in politics, the way things work is not always best for average voters.